Author(s): Karen Traviss
Cover artist: John Van Fleet
Publisher: Del Rey
Release date: July 26, 2008
Era: Rise of the Empire
cross the galaxy, the Clone Wars are raging. The Separatists, led by Count Dooku, the onetime Jedi and now secret Sith Lord, continue to press forward, and more and more worlds are either falling, or seceding and joining the cause. Under the leadership of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, the Republic heroically battles on, championed by its huge army of cloned soldiers and their Jedi generals.
Anakin Skywalker, believed by some to be the prophesied “Chosen One” destined to bring balance to the Force, is now a Jedi Knight under the tutelage of his Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Death is a constant possibility–and his chances of survival aren’t improved by the unexpected arrival of an apprentice: Ahsoka, a brash, inexperienced fourteen-year-old Padawan apprenticed to Anakin. But there’s no time for Anakin to question his latest orders: He and Obi-Wan have been assigned a new mission, and failure is not an option.
Jabba the Hutt’s precious infant son has been kidnapped, and when the frantic parent applies to the Jedi for help, it falls to Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, and their clone troops to track down the evidence and retrieve the missing Huttlet. And more is at stake: For a grateful Jabba just might allow the Republic access to the Hutt-controlled space lanes that the Grand Army desperately needs in order to beat the Separatists into submission.
But the Republic is not the only power that craves access to those space lanes. Count Dooku, determined to win the prize for the Separatists, has set a trap for the Jedi. When they find the Huttlet, they will also find Dooku’s master assassin, Asajj Ventress, and countless legions of battle droids waiting to spring a trap.
The blazing new animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes place in the years preceding Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and sets the stage for the groundbreaking TV series. Both contain all original material–direct from the brilliant imagination of legendary Star Wars creator George Lucas. And these exciting new adventures and characters are being brought to life in book form by none other than #1 New York Times bestselling Star Wars author Karen Traviss.
When plans were made late in the game to debut the upcoming television series The Clone Wars as a feature film, Lucasfilm and Del Rey turned to prolific author Karen Traviss to knock out the accompanying novelization. Traviss is responsible for the excellent series Republic Commando, originally based on a videogame, in which she takes a very fresh perspective on clones and Jedi and offers fast-paced storylines with a militaristic flavor. Her deep interest in the clones’ lives and her exploration of the Mandalorian culture’s impact on them, coupled with her extremely rapid writing pace, made her a natural choice for this book.
The novel offers a different perspective on events than the film. Whereas the film adopts a light, bouncy tone of adventure, Traviss explores the psychology behind the heroic tale and also adds some internal monologues which put the story in a somewhat different light. For instance, in the film Anakin cheerily plows through the droids to get to his objectives; Traviss tackles the rage that drives him in battle and reminds the reader of how Anakin’s conflicted feelings about his mother, his marriage, and his attachments make for an unstable mix, especially when Anakin is placed in the middle of a major-scale war for three years.
The story is told from an interesting variety of perspectives: Anakin, Dooku, new character Captain Rex, Asajj Ventress, Jabba the Hutt, and even a couple of scenes from Palpatine’s point of view. A particularly interesting point about the Palpatine scenes is that this is the first book to give the reader some of his internal monologue as Darth Sidious. We are privy to his gloating as he sits in his office facing the Jedi, mouthing pieties and platitudes while plotting their downfall and the revenge of the Sith. Another interesting aspect of the perspectives selected is the focus on the villains. No scenes are told from Obi-Wan’s or Yoda’s viewpoints, for example. However, this mix works well. Anakin and Rex carry the heroic part of the story, and Rex serves as another way in which Traviss can explore the concept of a clone army and the conflict these men feel as creations bred entirely for war dealing with a chaotic outside world.
The story itself is quite simple: Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta has been kidnapped and both the Separatists and the Republic are trying to rescue him, thereby currying favor with Jabba and gaining access to routes through Hutt-controlled space. Of course, Dooku has plotted the kidnapping from the start, and the main question is whether the Jedi and clones can avoid his series of traps and get the baby back to Jabba alive and well. Being originally based on three half-hour cartoons, the story is heavily focused on action sequences, most notably an epic battle on the planet Teth involving a vertical assault up steep cliffs and an extremely lengthy fight in a monastery’s courtyard. The Battle of Teth also features Asajj Ventress, who is brought up from the world of comics, earlier cartoons, and novels for her first feature film appearance. Traviss handles her motivations well and gives her a more menacing air than the movie.
The Clone Wars is a fun thrill-ride of a novel and a nice complement to the theatrical release. Traviss makes probably as much effort as she was allowed to place it in the existing continuity of novels, comics, and cartoons, with a few references to the Battle of Jabiim at least being a nod to where it falls in the timeline. It’s a breezy, action-packed read and a welcome addition to the larger story of the Clone Wars.
4.0/5.0 Kath Hounds
Review by Andrew P.
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